On Faith: Where did we come from really?

Most atheists don't have faith of any kind.

What they do have is hope — a natural hope that the important things in our life will go well. A believer's prayer is an atheist's hope.

Concerning the age-old cosmological question about the beginning of the universe, an atheist would have confidence (no faith required) in the consensus of the professionals, otherwise known as astrophysicists, cosmologists and astronomers. They spend nearly their entire adult lifetime to try and explain how the natural laws work in the universe. They search for the answers, and while making new discoveries, find new questions to answers many more complex that the original.

The moniker "Big Bang" was actually made up as a sarcastic name for the beginning of the universe by Sir Fred Hoyle, an English astronomer who did not agree with the idea that the universe came from a singularity. He believed that the universe was only 12 million years old.

What happened before the Big Bang? Since time and space were created after the big bang, so there was no "before" as we can imagine it. It's like asking what is north of the North Pole. Astrophysicists think that the natural laws of the universe as we see them now were not in effect during the first 10 to 43 seconds after the Big Bang. Possibly a different set of laws was in effect.

Some "Biblical literalists" think that an all-powerful deity made the universe only 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, including the light from the far-away galaxies created mid-stream but appearing to be billions of years old. They also think the supposedly 75-million-year-old dinosaur fossils were put there by the devil to fool us.

The "God of the gaps" is surely shrinking to the only thing believers can muster — faith.

From Wikipedia: "The term God of the gaps can refer to a position that assumes an act of God as the explanation for an unknown phenomenon, which is a variant of an argument from ignorance. Such an argument is sometimes reduced to the following form:

•There is a gap in understanding of some aspect of the natural world.

•Therefore the cause must be supernatural.

One example of such an argument, which uses God as an explanation of one of the current gaps in biological science, is as follows: 'Because current science can't figure out exactly how life started, it must be God who caused life to start.'

Critics of intelligent design creationism, for example, have accused Creationist proponents of using this basic type of argument."

History shows an embarrassing part of religion's attempt to obfuscate the fact that nearly everything that once was explained by a deity has now been shown to be a naturally occurring event. We now know that rainbows, earthquakes disease, weather and comets all have a natural and materialistic origin.

Science has explained nearly all the natural phenomena that were previously explained by gods or God. But there are so many questions that weren't even imagined just decades ago. And sure there will be more.

Do atheists think that we will ever be able to explain the Big Bang? Dark matter? Dark energy? Maybe not entirely, but by looking into the history of science, one can predict that the vastness of human knowledge will continue.

A religionist's viewpoint is becoming a smaller and smaller pocket of scientific ignorance. Their viewpoint explains nothing that we can use to enlighten human knowledge. And by teaching children that "God did it," it hinders the quest for the knowledge of evolution and the scientific study of where we came from.

BRUCE GLEASON is the founder of Backyard Skeptics, the largest non-theist community of agnostics, atheists and skeptics in Orange County. He can be reached at bruce@backyardskeptics.com.

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